Forest Service Making Big Plans For Big Belt Mountains

Aug 9, 2019
Originally published on August 9, 2019 4:48 pm

The U.S. Forest Service is asking for input on a 140,000 acre management project in the Big Belt Mountains, northeast of Helena. But there are few details of what exactly the agency is proposing. 

Kathy Bushnell with the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest says the Middleman Project includes the Avalanche drainage continuing north to the Trout Creek drainages of the Big Belts.

“The end goal is to have a healthier and more resilient forest," Bushnell says. "And then also to reduce the fire risk to communities, and homes, and people, and firefighters.”

Bushnell says that means removing beetle kill trees and doing prescribed fires - clearing up the forest floor and ladder fuels that could potentially lead to intense crown fires, and finding landscapes, like a patch of boulders, to create natural fire breaks.

It’s unclear where the Middleman Project work will be done within the 140,000 acres outlined by the Forest Service.

Bushnell says details on the work, like whether there will be commercial logging, are undecided.

A public meeting on the Middleman Project is scheduled for the afternoon of Tuesday, August 20, starting at 4:30 at the Tri-Lakes Lakeside Station 2.

Bushnell says the U.S. Forest Service is aiming to start the project’s on-the-ground work in a year.

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